This week’s Good Morning MASTERCLASS is the most “serious” MASTERCLASS member – Yoonmi ☆
She finds “brain fuel” for her manga from every story she encounters!
Today she showed us how we can fuel our brain’s with all sorts of stories to 😉
Good Morning Yoonmi!
INTERVIEW WITH Yoonmi.
“A new world opened up to me”
About where you live, anything the world should know about the place?
I live in a suburban city called Irvine, which is an hour away from Los Angeles by car. It’s a planned city by the Irvine Company and is therefore quite uniform and “plastic-looking.” However, there is an unusually high population of Asian-Americans living here (45%!), so Asian markets and stores are easily accessible.
Any memorable events in your manga creation career?
The trip to Japan with the MASTERCLASS in 2015 was definitely super fun and unique! A new world opened up to me. Although we met for only a few days, I still miss everyone!!
And I really loved the Awards Ceremony!! Still not sure if it was real. I’m not used to manga being taken so seriously, let alone celebrated. And for some reason, I wasn’t expecting the Ceremony to be much. I thought it’d be held in a small room with very few people. If I knew it’d be as big as it was, I would have been more nervous.
Was there anyone you were excited to meet during the SMA MASTERCLASS 2015 Tokyo trip?
Dee Juusan!! Her entry in SMA1 was my favorite! Her art appealed to me the most, as well as the paneling! And during the trip we were able to talk a lot and get along!! We follow each other on social media now.
“I’ve never seen anything else like it.”
Any artists who had an effect on your manga style or respect?
I really love Inio Asano-sensei’s work! Some parts of “Oyasumi Punpun” really took my breath away. His paneling “breaks the rules” sometimes and it’s very bold and effective. I’ve never seen anything else like it.
Some others I like are George Asakura-sensei’s “Oboreru Knife” and Aiji Yamakawa-sensei’s “Yajirobee”. “Oboreru Knife” drew me in with the gorgeous paneling and bright but dead-serious vibe. Everything flowed together so beautifully. And “Yajirobee” made an impact on me with the character’s faces and light-hearted tone throughout. Yamakawa-sensei’s personal style was so strong and unique.
What is ONE way Asano Inio-sensei “breaks the rules”?
One instance in “Oyasumi Punpun” that really sticks out to me is when (spoilers!) Punpun’s mother is about to pass away and speaks to Punpun for the very last time. Her final words are printed within two speech bubbles, each floating on separate, entirely blank, white pages. I’ve never seen a manga page look like that before and it left a huge impression on me. I learned there are all kinds of ways to communicate a message and manga is a more versatile medium than I thought.
Any other titles that influenced you creative style, like movies, dramas, or games?
Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” is my favorite and I highly recommend it as brain fuel for comic artists!
The children’s cartoon “Adventure Time” is brain fuel!? How so?
The show tends to take well-known tropes and twist them completely. Evil-looking characters are benevolent and vice versa; serious issues are treated gently and make it easy for children and adults to understand or relate to. Everything that might be a problem in the series has a whimsical feeling to it.
For example, (spoilers) Finn’s dad Marty! You’d expect the father of the hero-protagonist to be glad to see his son or be a kind or approachable person. But, it turns out he continues to abandon Finn and put himself (Marty) first in all kinds of situations. Finn’s own parent ends up hurting him in the end, and that’s not something you see in other children’s cartoons. Yet, Finn comes to understand his father and accepts him for who he is.
And the Ice King. Poor Simon…
“I invested in my hobby until it became my biggest passion in life”
Did creating manga have any effect on your life? In what ways?
It did! I’d dreamed of drawing manga as a child, but that was always only a dream, since “manga artist” isn’t a common or lucrative occupation here in the States. Yet, I still practiced and invested in my hobby until it became my biggest passion in life.
Honestly, despite knowing I loved to draw in my free time, my parents didn’t know much about my skills and were kind of taken aback. Their disapproval for my hobby turned into acceptance as my career path when I won the Grand Prix Runner-Up in SMA2 for “Forward”. This change in gear affected my life dramatically as SMA has opened up opportunities to a life I’d given up as a kid. Now, I hope to do work that only reflects my very best!
“I try to make the minute habits of my characters shape who they are”
We say “Breathing life into characters” is the magic of manga artists. Tell us how YOU cast that magic!
I like to focus on small details of my characters that are unique to them. In the same way every person walks differently, I try to make the minute habits of my characters shape who they are.
Please say ONE THING about “Manga NAME (DRAFT STORYBOARD)”.
If time is on your side, set it down for a few hours and read it again to see what can be improved!
Any other good tips to share?
When thinking of characters, a message from Tetsuo Hara-sensei always repeats in my head: “In manga, the more attention you pay to the details, the more life your characters will have.” I never thought about this prior to entering SMA in 2014, but it’s what I keep hearing in my mind now. When I make characters, I need to learn as much as I can about them, down to their small habits. This way, I can easily map out what they look like and set the grounds for how they will grow.
“I felt so much accomplishment!”
Is there any moment you felt, “Ah, I’m glad to have entered this competition”?
Immediately, after finishing my work “Forward” (SMA2), I felt so much accomplishment! I had worked on personal comics in the past, but I never worked on them as diligently as I had with my entry, let alone finished them. When I found out about the results and then got to visit Japan, I was more than glad. I feel like I owe “SMAC! THE WEB MAGAZINE” so much. The opportunities given to me were worth a hundred entries!
Hara-sensei commented about “Forward” (SMA2) in an interview in 2015. Has his words given you the drive to create even more?
My mind went into outer space when I read his comments! I wanted to print it out, frame it, and put it next to my desk. Of course his words have given the drive to create more! Even reading his comments now encourages me.
How did you celebrate when you heard the news of your SMA award win and the trip to Japan?
My family and I didn’t do any kind of celebration. I feel like my parents didn’t really understand what happened until after everything took place. I kept getting questions from them about everything. My mom was most interested in seeing my work printed in the SMA compilation book and “Monthly Comic ZENON” magazine.
“Characters first, story second”
Any tips you received from the SMAC! editor or other editors?
They always have words of encouragement and pages and pages of advice!! What sticks to me now is “characters first, story second.” For the longest time, I thought the other way around, so I keep that close to heart.
What do you want to create from now on?
I don’t have any projects in mind, but I would like to get started once my mind is set! I’m interested in making slice-of-life manga that is…err…on the serious side, but I also enjoy comedy and think it’d be interesting to try. Maybe both at the same time? We’ll see!
Thank you for your time Yoonmi senpai!
We can’t wait to see your serious slice-of-life manga!
The United States has manga talent from sea to shining sea waiting to be discovered. Let’s find them together as they join the SMA MASTERCLASS!!
The world loves reading manga and your manga could be the next work everyone raves about! Join the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® today and let’s bring your manga to the world!